Last week, I told you the road was clear and that we could get to our land in Western Maine. Despite having a terrible cold, with a cough I can’t seem to shake (no, it’s not Pertussis), we drove to our land on Saturday. It was a perfectly beautiful Spring day! The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and the trees on the mountain, while still pretty bare, had tiny buds that you had to squint to see. The stream was gurgling from the recent snow melt and Max and Mason tossed in one pebble after another.
Our storage shed and our outdoor shower survived the winter just fine. My solar lights, however, did not. They were knocked down and had some broken plastic around the edges. Next year, I’ll put them away before the snows arrive.
The RV is in the shop, being de-winterized and having a taillight replaced (Richard did it, not me!), so we could only spend the day at the land. I was determined to get started on the outhouse ASAP because, when we don’t have the RV with us…there is nowhere to “go”, if you know what I mean. The nearest gas station is several miles away and I’m not keen on having my backside meet the wrong end of a sticker-filled blackberry bush. We don’t want to spend $3K on a septic system yet and we can’t yet purchase a composting toilet. The one Richard wants runs around $1800. So, what’s a desperate family to do? Come up with a Portable Potty Plan (or P.P.P. – pun intended).
First, it can’t release any waste (which will be mixed with sawdust) into the environment at all. So, the waste must be stored so it can be easily removed (just like the RV tanks). Second, it must be cheap because anything over $500 requires a building permit. Third, according to an author friend of mine, it needs to be something that can’t be stolen because, apparently, outhouses are a hot commodity that disappear from rural properties (weird but true). Fourth, we needed to build something we can use right away. I came up with a very basic idea of a gizmo that would meet all this criteria when I was up coughing and drinking tea at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday morning.
Our outdoor shower is a wooden box (looks kind of like a rustic voting booth) that sits on some flat stones. A small stream of large pebbles leads away to the woods. The wood on the bottom of the shower is separated by large gaps to allow water to escape. The water source is a solar bag that warms in the sun. We don’t use any chemicals or detergents in the shower – meaning it’s for rinsing-off only. We do have a shower in the RV for REAL showers but the tanks fill up quickly so we only use it once per day, per person. The children can swim in the stream if they get too hot in the summer.
Anyway, I figured I could build the Butt Box part of the outhouse first and we can put it in the outdoor shower, for privacy, until the actual outhouse gets built. We bought 2 x 4’s for legs and a base, a large, square piece of sanded (very important to avoid splinters!) wood for the top, a quilting ring, and a toilet seat. Richard sawed the wood for the legs and base, I sawed the “butt hole” in the large piece of sanded wood, and we pieced everything together with screws, according the picture I had in my mind. Okay, it wasn’t perfectly level, but it’s definitely going to do the trick! You’re probably wondering about the quilting ring, huh? The quilting ring is to hold the plastic bag that the waste and sawdust will go into. Open the ring, insert plastic bag, clamp the ring shut, and lay it on the base. Then, we laid the toilet seat on top of the ring, and hot glued some small pieces of wood around the toilet seat so the quilting ring and toilet seat would stay in place when you sit, but can still be picked up when it’s time to remove the waste. Voila! One almost-instant Butt Box at your service! Frank even added some decorative touches with his wood burning kit. Come on! Take a seat! (Heh…) Here are some photos.
This week’s Maxism:
When I told Max to put his trains away because it was bedtime, he replied, “But, Mom, playing is good for my brain!”
Hugs to all!
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